Christians are called the vineyard of God. They exist to be fruitful and multiply. They are called to walk in the Spirit and display his fruit. Yes, every single hour of every single day, they are to love, think, speak, and do that which is pleasing and glorifying to God. They are to bear fruit for the Master — much fruit.
Consequently, some hear this missional truth and respond with anxiety and shame. They must do more. They must do better. They must get their act together and produce fruit for God.
However, others — Gospel-informed Christians — hear this truth and respond with excitement and anticipation. For them, this is only good and hopeful news.
Therefore my friends, where do you stand? Where does your head go when you are reminded that Christians are called to bear fruit — much fruit?
Perhaps Jesus’ instruction in John 15 will be of some great assistance to your anxiety-ridden head.
Jesus is in his final day before his arrest and crucifixion. He knows his hours with his fellows are coming to an end. Therefore, he gathers his friends and presents one of his final lessons. On this occasion, he wishes to speak with them about fruit, his fruit, that which he plans on producing through them.
John 15:1-17 I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples … No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide ….
In this text, the Father is the Vinedresser. He is the one with a great passion for healthy vines, healthy branches, and much fruit. Fruit glorifies him. It brings him great joy, and he loves to share his bounty with all who are found within his house.
In this lesson, Jesus is the Vine. More accurately, he is the “True Vine.” Many vines have proven to be fruitless. They are dis-appreciated and destroyed. However, Jesus, he is the thoroughly perfect, profitable, and pleasing vine. Consequently, when the Great Vinedresser is finished working with the True Vine, there is sure to be an abundance of grapes and wine coming from their joint venture.
It is the worshiper who is the branch. Christians are they who are connected to Christ, and their reason for existence is to bear much fruit for the Vinedresser’s glory.
This is not explicitly stated in the text, but I believe it is reasonable to see the Holy Spirit is the sap. He is the life-giving force flowing through Jesus. He is the power flowing from Jesus through his branches. The Spirit is the power that supplies nutrients, fertility, and God-pleasing fruit.
Now, in Jesus’ illustration, certain worshipers are only externally and temporarily attached. Sure, from an outsider’s view, they appear to be vitally connected to Christ and fed by the Spirit. However, as Scripture records, looks can be deceiving. Such disciples have not the blessing of the Holy Spirit, and like Judas they prove to be disconnected, lifeless, and fruitless. They serve not their fruity purpose, and ultimately they are disconnected by the vinedresser and placed in the kindling pile.
They are to be distinguished from true worshipers who are internally and eternally attached. These elect disciples are watered, cleaned, protected, and pruned by the Father. Additionally, these friends prove to be truly connected to the vine as they are perpetually nourished and sustained by the Holy Spirit. And their end and their produce is predetermined — these worshipers who can do nothing by themselves, prove their genuine connectedness by their bringing forth fruit — much fruit.
So, what should we do with this teaching?
We should crave fruit. Fruit represents anything good produced by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through Christians.
This includes internal graces such as Godward affection, soul-peace, unreasonable joy, longsuffering patience, personal humility, hatred for sin, persistent repentance, love for enemies, hunger for truth, desire to serve, and growth in wisdom.
Fruit can also include things that are seen — external graces of kindness, goodness, charity, obedience, pure speech, self-control, self-sacrifice, and certain spiritual gifts.
We could then add ministerial consequences such as reclaimed prodigals, new converts, revived disciples, developing leaders, and the multiplying of healthy churches and Christian institutions.
Sure, in some ways it is completely unhelpful to make a list, for who can number the ways in which the Almighty can fruit his family.
However, all that being said, we should desire and persistently pray for fruit which is glorifying to our Heavenly Father. We should crave fruit — much fruit.
We should be expectant. Knowing the predestined will of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and knowing their unchanged desire and excellent skills, we should expect a bountiful harvest. Yes, the three Persons of the Godhead are experts in fruit cultivation. The world, the flesh, and the devil have no impact on their sovereign intentions. They will not fail. They will not be frustrated. They will glorify themselves by producing fruit in us. Therefore, we should be excited and expectant!
We should be humble. Intelligent believers recognize their impotency. We know, apart from the labors of the Father, Son, and Spirit, we can do nothing. Consequently, upon finding good fruit coming forth from our hearts, heads, mouths, and hands, we should give all glory and honor to God. He performs well. He produces fruit. We are merely the conduits, channels, or branches of his handiwork. Consequently, there remains no room in our lives for the congratulation of self, the making of comparisons, the judging of brothers who seem to be struggling, or the devilish boasting of Nebuchadnezzar. To God be the glory! Great things he has done.
Finally, we should abide in Christ. We should abide, remain, continue, rest, persist, persevere, or stay connected. And what does this mean? Friends, after serious study, I have no better answer than this — pray without ceasing. We should talk to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as we …
- Arise from sleep
- Take our showers
- Read the scriptures
- Eat our breakfast
- Drive to our first appointment at school, work, the gym, or club
- Have our first conversations
- Encounter our trials
- Experience our troubles
- Face our temptations
- Find ourselves standing tall or sinfully weak
- Make our phone calls, emails, or social media posts
- The Lord gives or takes away
- Make our way home to our family
- Realize the successes and failure of our own
- End the night with our spouse
- Go to sleep under the watchful care of our Heavenly Father
And if we abide … if we remain … if we rest … if we persist in prayer … if we stay connected to the True Vine … if we walk in the Spirit … if we keep step with the Spirit … we will find ourselves sovereignly fruited in accordance with God’s will and plan.
So here is the big idea in a sentence — Today, let us focus more on the means of grace than on the fruits of grace. For if we pray fervently, we will produce fruit — much fruit.
Do not be anxious about anything, especially producing fruit. Just abide and see what happens.
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